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Amanda Marcotte on the Thomas Ball suicide, and MRA haters

Amanda Marcotte, feminist blogger and Friend of Man Boobz, has been taking a lot of shit from MRAs – and I mean a LOT of shit – for a comment she made here on the Thomas Ball suicide.

As you may already know, Ball burned himself to death outside a New Hampshire courthouse. In a lengthy manifesto he wrote shortly before killing himself, he portrayed his suicide as a protest against a corrupt family court system, and went on to argue that MRAs should quite literally assemble some Molotov cocktails and “start burning down police stations and courthouses.” (You can read the whole manifesto here.)  Despite his calls for violence many MRAs have hailed him as an MRA martyr.

Marcotte, in her comment here, suggested that there might have been other, more personal reasons for his suicide – namely, the desire to hurt his ex-wife:

I’ll point out that setting yourself on fire is an extremely effective tool if your goal is to make your ex-wife’s life a living hell, and if your anger at losing control over her overwhelms all other desires. Which is common enough with abusers, who will ruin their own lives and their own shit and turn their children against them in an effort to hurt the woman they’ve fixated on.

One MR blogger declared this comment “pure feminist evil”; a conservative blogger compared Marcotte to the Beast of Babylon.  Still other MRAs resorted to assorted variations on the c-word.

Marcotte has now responded to this, er, “criticism” with an excellent post on Pandagon. As she points out, correctly,

suicide and threats of suicide are common tactics used by abusers to hurt their victims. Abusers dramatically self-destruct all the time in their desperation to control and hurt the objects of their obsession.  There was just recently a big story about this, in fact: Jason Valdez of Utah, who had a long criminal record that included domestic violence, held a woman hostage in a hotel room for 16 hours and kept updates about the situation on Facebook. He eventually committed suicide.

The notion that suicide can be a hostile, aggressive act designed to hurt other people is hardly a controversial one, whether the person committing suicide is male or female. Threats of suicide are often used to manipulate other people; suicide itself can be an act of revenge.

Marcotte goes on:

Apparently, I’m supposed to pretend that suicide isn’t a disruptive, selfish act in many cases (especially when the suicide victim commits it in a public and destructive way), and that people who do it, while yes victims of their own mental health problems, are also thinking that they’re going to make everyone pay for not indulging them.  In fact, not only is this true in Ball’s case, but he spelled it out in his suicide note.  The “make the bastards suffer” theme of his note is the reason that wingnuts are supporting him.

But you don’t have to take her word for it. Read Ball’s entire manifesto, to the end, and ask yourself if this man is an appropriate “martyr” for any political movement.

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Pecunium
10 years ago

toysoldier: Length is not logical verbosity: Argumentum verbosium/proof by intimidation.

Given your tendency to dismiss less than detailed answers as incomplete, or misrepresentative, VoiP is being proactive in stop-thrusting your attempts to say he didn’t address the points completely.

Where did I state that striking a child is acceptable? The example I gave only stated that the parent slapped the child’s hand, so it is analogous to Ball’s case. However, the point was to illustrate that a person strike someone without intending to hurt the other person. As for the other bit, I stated that I find striking a child cowardly and do not condone it. If you chose to ignore those statements and resort to strawmen and ad hominems, it only makes you look foolish.

You made an apologia in that analogy. You implied there was a justification for hitting her. Since the analogy you made was one of exigent circumstance, and no such situation existed, the analogy was false, and so the implicit justification was void, ergo the exculpation was null. Since you are defending him, on that non-justified example (and one which contains a untrue statement. Blows are meant to hurt, you meant to say one can strike without intending harm… which isn’t actually a defense in the case at hand, because there is no affirmative justification for striking someone who isn’t at risk of harm in the case provided) there is no strawman.

There is also no ad hominem because my charge of your engaging in apologia is on point.

If you wish to use terms of art, it behooves you to do so properly, not doing so only makes you look foolish.

VoiP
VoiP
10 years ago

Bee said

Well of course Toysoldier will read/glance at all that and come back with some well-considered retort like, I know you are, but what am I?

Well, looks like he went for the less-common but still-popular “You said too many things!” option. Ah well. Can’t call them all, I guess.

Toysoldier:

You presented a lot of logical fallacies (most notably argumentum verbosium), and rather than wade through them point by point I will focus on the critical matters.

That’s cute. The way I see it, you made five points and I addressed them all. If you don’t think you can refute me, be that as it may, but you wrote the checks before I cashed them.

Pecunium said

Given your tendency to dismiss less than detailed answers as incomplete, or misrepresentative, VoiP is being proactive in stop-thrusting your attempts to say he didn’t address the points completely.

Ooh, so this is one of those special games where I get to lose no matter what? SWEET, I LOVE THOSE.

As I noted, Marcotte resorted to an association fallacy by asserting that qualities of one thing (MRA) are inherently qualities of another (Ball) merely by an irrelevant association (similar position on the family courts)…You engaged the same association fallacy with your list.

This is incorrect. She said that MRA positions influenced Ball, which is what I was trying to prove. Showing that things they say are similar is one way to do that.

This is an Association Fallacy:
“Ball is an MRA.” [A is an X]
“Ball is also mentally unstable.” [A is also B]
“Therefore, all MRAs are mentally unstable.” [Therefore, all Xs are B.]

In order for there to be an association fallacy, the qualities you’re throwing around have to be inherent (All Bs are X, B is necessarily X), which is not a claim that Marcotte’s making, and the association has to be irrelevant, which is also not the case here, since a certain position on family courts is a hallmark of the MRA/Fathers’ Rights complex of beliefs (yes, I know they’re not the same thing, but this is an issue for more than one group), so it’s a good bet that that’s where Ball picked it up. I think you might also have to be reasoning from the general to the particular, which isn’t the case here, either. It’s possible I’m describing this incorrectly; I wasn’t trained in formal logic; one of the law students or debaters here is welcome to correct me.

Coincidentally, Ball’s suicide note suggests he did not support MRAs: “Some of the boys in the Father’s Movement think Congress might have shot themselves in the foot over this one. Personally, I think they shot themselves some place anatomically higher.”

You are slipping, viejo. It was a joke, based on figures of speech known as ~*METAPHOR*~. Ball does not literally think that Fathers’ Rights people believe members of Congress are shooting themselves in the foot whereas he, by contrast, believes they have shot themselves in the cock. He may believe that 25% of the US population are homeless because they’ve been arrested for domestic violence, but he’s not that silly.

On a related note, using terms to mischaracterize one’s opponent is an example of bigotry if one does it out “stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own”, which describes Marcotte’s position on men’s groups.

It’s not bigotry to disagree with something. That is an incorrect definition of “bigotry,” because it fails to take justified disagreement (or justified intolerance) into account. You’re obligated to tolerate other people, but nobody has to tolerate beliefs and actions that they believe are wrong and hurtful.

While he made no effort to save his marriage and may have harbored some anger towards his ex-wife, that does not prove he killed himself to terrorize her or blamed her. He comes across as rather indifferent about his divorce.

But absolutely livid about having been arrested for DV, which he spun an elaborate fantasy scenario around to the point where he believed that one quarter of the US population had been arrested for DV at some time and were therefore homeless.. She was the one who called the cops on him.

Now, I’ll admit that the bulk of his anger, judging from the manifesto, is directed against the Government. They are his stated target. But in the first place, someone can be angry at more than one thing at the same time, and in the second place, even if you’re right and he wasn’t intending to terrorize his wife at all (even though being on fire is a very bad way to not frighten people), who cares? It doesn’t make him look any better.

VoiP
VoiP
10 years ago

Now, I’ll admit that the bulk of his anger, judging from the manifesto, is directed against the Government. They are his stated target. But in the first place, someone can be angry at more than one thing at the same time, and in the second place, even if you’re right and he wasn’t intending to terrorize his wife at all (even though being on fire is a very bad way to not frighten people), who cares? It doesn’t make him look any better.

In before ‘The System drove him to do it by demanding that he pay child support.”
(1) He says he could pay the child support easily, he just chooses not to
(2) The anti-government paranoia
(3) He calls for an insurrection–whether or not “The System drove him to do it,” that’s still ungood.

I’ve also noticed that you’ve dropped your claims that we’re all gloating over Ball’s death, or even that Marcotte is. Guess we persuaded you. Good job.

Toysoldier
10 years ago

@Pecunium

It can be. From your link: Argumentum verbosium is also known as Proof by Intimidation, or Proof by Verbosity. It refers to an argument that is so complex, so long-winded and so poorly presented by the arguer that you are obliged to accept it, simply to avoid being forced to sift through its minute details.

Regarding the other matter, was not the issue in contention that a person could hit someone without intending to hurt them? Furthermore, was it not Ball’s contention that he was justified in striking his daughter as a form of correction? If I provide a similar example in which a person feels justified in their actions while not intending to hurt anyone, where is the false analogy? Likewise, tearing down a position I do not hold, i.e. that I support Ball’s actions,  is a strawman argument. If you present an argument about my person (“But you are willing to grossly misrepresent Amanda Marcotte, so why should we listen to you any further”) in an effort to discredit my actual argument, that is an ad hominem.

If you wish to correct someone usage of terms of art, it behooves you to do so accurately. Not doing so only makes you look foolish, particularly if you link to it.

@VoiP

This is also an association fallacy, specifically guilt by association:

A makes a claim of P’s status.
B also makes a claim of P’s status.
Therefore, P is guilty by association.

Marcotte’s position: Ball believed the family court system is biased. MRAs believe the family court system is biased. Therefore, Ball is just like MRAs. Marcotte’s use of influenced is a clever way of trying to justify the fallacy, but the fallacy remains. She is positing that Ball was essentially a MRA.

That Ball used a metaphor does not disprove that he did not appear to support Father’s Rights groups. As for the definition of bigotry, it is correct. If you feel otherwise, please cite an example of a dictionary providing your “correct” definition. And I did not drop any position. I presented evidence which was dismissed several times. Why repeat it if you will just ignore it?

I stand by my initial comment: more disturbing is the willingness by feminists to dehumanize this man and enjoy his suicide like some bizarre masturbatory exercise. If your contention is that his views about the system were wrong, then attack those views. If you take issue with some men’s activists treating Ball like a martyr, then attack their positions. Do not fabricate information about Ball, make unsubstantiated claims about his motives, or tie him to a group of people you dislike in order to discredit his reasons for suicide. Otherwise you pull the same nonsense that some men’s activists pull when they read about false rape accusations.

mediumdave
mediumdave
10 years ago

Toysoldier: From this news article:

Ball’s trouble began with the courts. On his Facebook page, he lists himself as the leader of the Central Massachusetts Chapter of the Fathers’ Rights Movement.

Is that clear enough, or do you need a Powerpoint slide show?

Pecunium
10 years ago

soldier: I was making a specific charge about your behavior. It was apposite. Merely saying things about someone which are about character does not = ad hominem.

Had I said, ‘you are ugly, so your opinions on “x” are invalid’ that would be ad hominem. But this is a discussion about Amanda Marcotte. Your treatment of her in the past is relevant, which means it can’t be ad hominem.

It may be false, but that’s a different issue. You really are putting yourself in the position of, “physician, heal thyself.” You keep tossing out accusations of fallacy which are false. They are, in their way, also fallacious, as they are an appeal to authority; often depending on the audience not knowing that you are misusing the terms. It’s why I link to them; it allows the audience (who are the actual judges, you will continue to feel you have scored points and made your interlocutors look ridiculous, we will continue to shake our heads at yet another internet debate in which someone is pretending to an understanding of logic which the evidence belies) to look at the accepted definitions of the terms being discussed and decide which of the people using them has a better grasp of what they mean.

You were the one who made the comparison to a blow required to avert a greater harm. I am willing to accept that such circumstances might be mitigating, even exculpatory. I don’t agree they aren’t meant to hurt. I also see nothing in Ball’s admissions which allows for such an interpretation; which means you are proposing a non-analogous parallel, which is a rhetorical distraction. Where it to go unchallenged Ball’s actual deeds (repeatedly striking his four-year old daughter for licking her; and splitting her lip in the process) become conflated with someone slapping a child’s hand to stop them from grabbing a hot pan, or a sharp knife.

That’s not what he did.

Bee
Bee
10 years ago

DAVID! Mediumdave broke the internet!

Plymouth
Plymouth
10 years ago

The internet is italic! The internet is for italic porn!

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
10 years ago

So… is italic porn a mix of gallic and itallian, or is it porn where all the people are tilted to the side and posh?

thefemalespectator
10 years ago

Speaking of porn–my brother observes that “tentacle porn” is now a verb (io9’s review of the new Transformers movie).

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